Friday, 20 February 2015

Mastermind - Semi Final 2

Here we are in round two then. Let’s have a quick look at the runners and riders. First round scores were: -
Will Howells – 28 – 1 (13)
Alice Meynell – 26 – 0 (12)
Gareth Williams – 26 – 0 (16)
Mel Kinsey – 26 – 3 (16)
Nigel Tomlinson 22 – 1 (11)

Looking down the list of contenders, the eye was drawn to three in particular. Will Howells had scored a terrific 15 on specialist in his first round, and a very good 13 on GK. Gareth Williams hadn’t done quite so well on his specialist, scoring 10, but had a fantastic GK round of 16. As did Mastermind veteran Mel Kinsey, a finalist in 1995. It was difficult to look beyond these three for the winner, but many times in the past we’ve seen how unreliable first round form can be.

Will kicked off with Inspector Morse. He seemed rather unsettled by his first question. I fancy that had that come at the end of the round rather than the beginning he might well have had at least one more point. As it was he rallied well after that shaky start to post a total of 8. In the context of a 90 second round that’s a perfectly good performance. However it is not a performance that is going to give you an advantage at half time, which is surely what all of our contenders would have been hoping for.

Alice Meynell gave us a round on the life of Charles Burgess Fry. Quite a chap by all accounts. I think that he was only once invited to join a commentary team for a test match on the radio, and when the presenter addressed him as Charles, the story goes that he turned round and said words to the effect of – It’s Commander Fry to you - . Possibly apocryphal, but a good story nevertheless. Alice couldn’t quite wring the life out of her larger than life subject, and she finished with 7, some way short one suspected of what would be required to give her a fighting chance.

Reinhard Heydrich has probably rarely been mentioned in the same breath as C.B.Fry, but he was the subject taken by third contender, Nigel Tomlinson. I knew relatively little about Heydrich, other than him being one of the architects of the holocaust, and the reprisals taken on Lidice. Nigel, I’m glad to say, know quite a bit more. He too managed to take 8 points to put himself level with Will. Now, I have to say that when Nigel’s answer to the last question was given as wrong, and the answer was given, he did look rather askance, and then the camera seemed to cut away quickly. Was there, by any chance a challenge made at this point? I’ve never seen one happen in any of the shows I’ve either played in or watched as a member of the studio audience, but they must happen some times. Whatever the case, the score remained at 8.The contest, though, was really crying out for one contender to grab it by the scruff of the neck, and put in a double figure specialist round – not easy in 90 seconds, but it can be done.

My internet friend Mel Kinsey – a stalwart of the Mastermind Club, and supplier of an excellent weekly quiz on the website – has more experience in the black chair than many. He was answering on a subject after my own heart, the great Jack Johnson. Now, I did say that C.B. Fry was a larger than life figure, but on this score the crown would have to pass to Johnson. I’ve read a couple of good biographies of Johnson, and I have to vouch for the difficulty of some of Mel’s questions on this round. Generally with old boxers, and old heavyweight boxers in particular I’d like to think that I’m more knowledgable than the average punter, but I only had 4 of these myself. Mel’s 7 was again a good score, but it would leave him with quite some work to do.

Finally then to Gareth Williams. Gareth had, as a I said earlier, really impressed with his GK round last time out. If he could put in a top notch performance on specialist, then there looked to be every good chance that he would at least be able to hold his advantage when it came to GK. His subject was the Gospel According to St. Mark, and I don’t really know what it says about me that I did better on this round than I had on Jack Johnson. It was by some way the pick of the Specialist Rounds, and a score of 10 points put Gareth firmly into the driving seat going into the GK round.

The round, then, was kicked off by Alice. None of the contenders disgraced themselves on General Knowledge tonight, but most of them found it harder going than their first round GK had been, even allowing for 30 seconds less time in the round. Alice pushed her score up to 14, and with the best will in the world, that wasn’t a target that was going to prove any difficulty for Gareth to hit. Mel followed Alice into the chair, and he had a rare off night, when answers he knew just refused to take the final plunge off the tip of his tongue. He too posted a score of 14.

Will Howells knew that he was going to need to post as high a score as possible to at least put Gareth into the corridor of uncertainty. He gave it a fair old lash, too, putting himself into double figures. We’ve seen in the last couple of years that a double figure GK score in the semis really isn’t bad going at all. I’m sure that Nigel Tomlinson might agree with that one. He too gave it a good old go, but could only add a further 8 points to his own score, leaving the target at 19 for an outright win.

Well, we’ve seen good people fail to reach what seem to be quite gettable targets before, so nothing was guaranteed. With the best will in the world, though, you usually need 20s and over in the semi to have a chance of making it through to the final. Gareth progressed to 19 in fairly short order, had a couple of wrong answers at this stage, and then powered on to add another 4 points, taking his total to 23. That’s good going, and clearly worthy of a final slot.

Congratulations to Gareth. Now, I won’t lie – I still get a warm glow from knowing that, up to and including 2014, I was the last schoolteacher to win Mastermind. But believe me that Gareth, a schoolteacher himself, is perfectly capable of changing that state of affairs, and if that is the case, then I will gladly pass over that mantle. Gareth, without wishing to jinx you in any way, I wish you the best of luck.

The Details

Will Howells Inspector Morse8 - 010 - 118 - 1
Alice MeynellThe Life of C.B.Fry7 - 17 - 014 - 1
Nigel TomlinsonThe Life of Reinhard Heydrich8 - 08 - 216 - 2
Mel KinseyLife and Career of Jack Johnson7 - 27 - 514 - 7
Gareth WilliamsThe Gospel According to St. Mark10 – 013 -  023 - 0

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